Data from: Fine-scale genetic structure reflects sex-specific dispersal strategies in a population of sociable weavers (Philetairus socius)
van Dijk, René E. et al. (2015), Data from: Fine-scale genetic structure reflects sex-specific dispersal strategies in a population of sociable weavers (Philetairus socius), Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.gr7p0
Dispersal is a critical driver of gene flow, with important consequences for population genetic structure, social interactions and other biological processes. Limited dispersal may result in kin-structured populations in which kin selection may operate, but it may also increase the risk of kin competition and inbreeding. Here, we use a combination of long-term field data and molecular genetics to examine dispersal patterns and their consequences for the population genetics of a highly social bird, the sociable weaver (Philetairus socius), which exhibits cooperation at various levels of sociality from nuclear family groups to its unique communal nests. Using 20 years of data, involving capture of 6508 birds and 3151 recaptures at 48 colonies, we found that both sexes exhibit philopatry and that any dispersal occurs over relatively short distances. Dispersal is female-biased, with females dispersing earlier, further, and to less closely related destination colonies than males. Genotyping data from 30 colonies showed that this pattern of dispersal is reflected by fine-scale genetic structure for both sexes, revealed by isolation by distance in terms of genetic relatedness and significant genetic variance among colonies. Both relationships were stronger among males than females. Crucially, significant relatedness extended beyond the level of the colony for both sexes. Such fine-scale population genetic structure may have played an important role in the evolution of cooperative behaviour in this species, but it may also result in a significant inbreeding risk, against which female-biased dispersal alone is unlikely to be an effective strategy.